• Cooking in the Caribbean – The Christmas Cake Recipe

    Santa in BarbadosIn Barbados we have a huge array of wonderful foods, ground provisions, fish, fruits and locally sourced meat.  There are farmers markets with knowledgeable producers and purveyors of spices and tonics and many artisan foodstuffs.  When on holiday it’s nice to try the local ingredients and there are lots of delicious recipes to try.  If you would like to order groceries and supplies in advance of your arrival, we offer a shopping service – please enquire for details.

    All of our villas and apartments have superb kitchen and dining facilities – everything you need to cook up a storm.  For those of you that have an aversion to the kitchen, I can recommend excellent villa cooks, who will come to your villa and delight you with dishes chosen specifically for you.  If you’d like details of this, just contact me.  And, of course, if you can drag yourself away from your holiday home, we have a huge range of world class restaurants and local eateries, all you have to do is choose which one!  (To avoid disappointment, throughout the busy season, I would highly recommend booking in advance.)  Although Barbados is extremely ‘child friendly’, you may prefer to leave the children at home (they are often spent after a long sunshine filled day on the beach!).  We can arrange experienced baby sitters so you can relax and enjoy the gourmet delights on a ‘grown ups’ night out.

    At Christmas, many people are planning a festive feast and, traditionally in Barbados, that would involve turkey, ham and all the trimmings.  Bajans are serious about their food – there is a lot of eating !  In the Caribbean there is a traditional cake which is called ‘Great Cake’.  This is a dense fruit cake that is prepared for Christmas and for weddings. It is usually very sweet and soaked in alcohol. The fruit mixture can be prepared many months in advance and allowed to soak.  These cakes can be bought locally.

    I have my own favorite recipe for ‘Christmas Cake’, this is traditionally an English recipe (not Caribbean), but with the addition of the sunshine and Bajan rum, I think it goes down extremely well.  I also think it is the easiest Christmas cake recipe ever !  If you feel like giving it a try, I don’t think you can go far wrong.  Here’s the very simple recipe:

    1kg mixed dried fruit
    100g ready to eat prunes (chopped)
    50g ready to eat figs (chopped)
    100g dried cranberries
    Zest and juice of 1 orange
    175ml rum
    2 splashes of Angostura bitters
    175g unsalted butter
    175g muscovado sugar
    200g self-raising flour
    Half teaspoon of ground cinnamon, grated nutmeg & allspice
    4 medium eggs (beaten)

    Feel free to change up the ingredients, mix up the dried fruit, I sometimes include nuts and seeds.  I also use spelt flour and bicarb/cream of tartar as a raising agent.  (the cake doesn’t raise much – it is quite a heavy cake).

    Double line a cake tin, I’ve used all shapes and sizes, so just adjust cooking time accordingly.  I also put lining paper around the outside of the tin, tied with string.

    Preheat oven to180 degrees C.

    All you do is…….
    Simmer all the fruit, sugar, butter, orange zest/juice, and rum in a large heavy based pan until the fruit is plump and shining.  (Smells wonderful).

    Then, (with a Christmas flourish) add the remaining ingredients: flour, spice, then the eggs.  Mix thoroughly and quickly (the mixture will be hot, you don’t want to end up with scrambled eggs !)

    Tip in to your prepared tin(s) and pop in the oven.

    If you make one big cake it should take around 2- 2.5 hours to cook.  Check that a skewer comes out clean.  Then, voila ! It is done.  Sit back and feel smug.

    It can be enjoyed without sunshine, but I think it’s better with !  Happy Christmas from Paradise Rentals, Barbados.